John Molene / Sports Writer
Players come and players go, but this Park senior class was special. Indeed, it may be awhile before Park sees the like of these four seniors together again on one softball team—shortstop Delaney Young, center fielder Riley Perryman, first baseman Heather Degler and third baseman Shelby Schabacker. "They've done everything for us," said Park head coach Bob Loshek. "You couldn't ask for anything more. You get some years some years where you say this senior could have done this or that senior could have done that. These four put everything on the table."
The Fridinger boys, Caleb and Luke, stayed alive in the Class AA doubles Thursday in the 2018 state boys tennis tournament. The East Ridge duo dropped their opening match to Mounds View's Christo Alex and Michael Cao Thursday morning, losing 6-1, 6-4. But they then scored a solid 6-3, 6-3 win over St. Cloud Tech's Kevin Heller and Richard Zimring in the first round of consolation play to remain in the tournament. "We were aggressive today," said sophomore Caleb Fridinger. We were good as a team. On the short balls we moved in. We were aggressive at the net.
NORTH MANKATO—Class AAAA's best team was done in by Class AAAA's hottest team. Stillwater, which limped through the regular season with just a 7-12 record, caught fire in the playoffs and rode that streak all the way to a Minnesota state softball championship. The Ponies almost didn't make it out of sections, losing to Cretin-Derham Hall in their opener before reeling off six wins to advance to state.
At halftime it was a laugher, Eagan up 8-3. But with 9:45 to play, it was all tied up at 8-all. With 4:24 to play it was a 10-all game. And then the roof fell in for the East Ridge Raptors. Visiting Eagan scored with 1:44 to play and the Wildcats held on to knock the Raptors out of a berth in the state boys lacrosse tournament for the second time in three years, winning 11-10 Thursday.
Park head coach Bob Loshek was shaking his head at star slugger Delaney Young. With just one out and the bases loaded in the second inning against sixth-ranked Eastview in the section finals, Young had just missed her best chance of putting Park up, possibly, 5-0. "When you're a Ms. Softball candidate, you're only going to get one pitch," Loshek said to nobody in particular.
COTTAGE GROVE—Minnehaha Academy ended Park's standout girls lacrosse season with the big tease. Every time the Wolfpack would get within a goal, the Redhawks would find a way to go up by another score. "We'd get possession of the ball and then just give it right back to them," said Park head coach Scott Leonard. "It was just kind of silly mistakes that cost us tonight. You've got to give them hats off. They came out and pressured us and we didn't always handle that pressure."
It was a head-shaking game for Thunderbolts head coach John Culbertson. Culbertson would look at the field, look at the scoreboard, and then shake his head. South Washington County threatened to end the game early several times, but North Suburban kept battling back. Finally it was over, and the South Washington County Thunderbolts had a 22-10 victory and a third-place finish in the 2018 state adapted softball CI Division tournament at Coon Rapids Saturday.
Riley Perryman's game-winning mind set was simple—put herself in a desperate situation and find a way out. She did. And as a result the Wolfpack are going back to state. Perryman ripped a three-run home run over the left field fence in the bottom of the fifth inning to lift third-ranked Park to a thrilling 6-3 triumph over sixth-ranked Eastview Friday in the finals of the Section 3AAAA Tournament at Richfield Middle School. Perryman's hit erased a 3-2 Eastview advantage and gave the Wolfpack momentum they were hold to the end.
Senior Mackenzie Lawrence scored three goals and Park got past visiting East Ridge 10-3 in Section 3 girls lacrosse Friday evening. With the victory, Park advanced to the section semifinals and will host third-seeded Minnehaha Academy at Park Tuesday, June 5, at 7 p.m. Winner of that game plays June 7 at East Ridge for the section championship.
East Ridge, Park and Woodbury athletes all had their turns to shine Thursday in the Section 3AA track and field meet, but no one shone brighter than East Ridge's Allyson Weiss. Weiss won both titles in the Section 3AA triple (39-11.75) and long jumps (18-08.25) at the University of St. Thomas Thursday, ran the anchor leg on East Ridge's winning 4x200-meter relay team and finished fourth in the open 200. Weiss's winning long jump was a personal best by four inches.